Maseko now looking for fresh cattle to replace those taken by king
Aaron Mkhondvo Maseko, who has never been charged with stock theft, but had his cattle taken away from him
because they allegedly belonged to the King, is still hurting.
His attempts to stop the seizure of 35 cattle taken from him through an order from the King’s Office failed
spectacularly at the Supreme Court.
As the legal process went on, his matter contributed to the sacking of Justice Thomas Masuku whose finding on
the matter raised allegations that he had insulted King Mswati III.
Despite there being a justiciable constitution in Swaziland signed into law by King Mswati III on July 26, 2005,
the presumption of inncocence enshrined there did not protect Maseko.
On being accused of a criminal offence Maseko was unconstitutionally presumed guilty and instantly punished. His
guilt or otherwise may never be proven in a court of law.
Maseko allegedly stole an undisclosed number of cattle from the king and despite that he had not been tried or
convicted by a competent court of law, he lost all of his livestock.
Unfortunately for Maseko, the situation over his cattle is at a stage where to bring him for trial is no longer
a preferred option.
While Maseko is touted as a cattle thief and as such has been punished, bringing him in a court of law for trial
could create problems for government in the event he is acquitted of the alleged theft.
Today, the man is silently hurting and has no recourse after the Supreme Court found against him.
He has lost hope he would recover his cattle and by the look of things, he might as well forget about his cattle
grabbed from him by the King’s Office.
“If by some miracle my cattle could be brought back I think I may have to stay away from home for a while to
“People may not know or see it, but I am hurting inside. I derive no pleasure in talking about this matter and I
try by all means to avoid it.
“After my cattle were taken I decided to place my heart somewhere with God to protect myself,” he told The
Nation after much persuasion.
To place his heart somewhere is not to say he has made peace with the loss. Far from it.
All he did was to ‘bury’ the matter at the back of his mind to protect himself from emotional damage.
He was at pains describing hardships the deprivation had caused him.
“My loss is immeasurable. With the cattle, I fed and educated my children. Each year I would sell two
“With the money I got from the sale of one beast, I would buy farm inputs and pay for tractor services. With the
money for the other I would pay school fees for the education of my children.
“As you can see, my fields are now lying idle,” he said.
In the traditional Swazi way, a man is measured by the number of his cattle. From the cattle, a Swazi family
gets milk, meat, kraal manure, etc. The cattle are also used for farming.
At about 5:30 in the morning of May 25 2009, Maseko was woken up by a team of armed policemen accompanied by the
national overseer of the king’s cattle, Macaleni Dlamini.
A letter signed by Chief Officer in the King’s Office, Bheki Dlamini which authorised the team to seize Maseko’s
head of cattle, was shoved into his hands.
“I was asleep in the other house when I was woken by police who led me towards the kraal. I did not know what to
do. I just watched them load my cattle into two trucks,” he said.
In the letter, the king commanded that the late Chief Madzanga hand over all royal cattle in his possession.
The chief was advised in the letter that some of the cattle were in the possession of Maseko and one Aaron
The beasts had been “removed” from a farm known as ka-George by Maseko, Zulu and others, it was alleged.
From the tone of the letter, the cattle from Maseko or Zulu were to be collected from the chief’s home.
The number of cattle to be seized was not specified in the letter and as it appears, it was left to the team to
decide. The team did not hesitate to clear the kraal.
All of Maseko’s 32 beasts found inside the kraal were loaded into trucks and taken to a farm owned by Tibiyo
Taka Ngwane - a royal investment company - at Khubutha in the Shiselweni region.
Maseko said this was the second time a team from the King’s Office had raided his kraal. In the first instance,
four beasts were seized.
In all, he alleges a head of 36 cattle was seized from him and in court he did not claim the four cattle.
To gain possession of his cattle, Maseko had filed an urgent application at the High Court and Justice Stanley
Maphalala issued on May 26 2009 an interim order for the return of the cattle.
A Deputy Sheriff in the Shiselweni region, Joseph Mandla Dlamini, had proceeded to a Tibiyo farm in Khubutha and
seized the cattle.
Along the way back, he was intercepted by police from Hlathikhulu led by Almon Msibi who stopped the enforcement
of the court order.
Dlamini instituted contempt of court proceedings against the police and up to the time the Supreme Court
concluded against Maseko, the application by the deputy sheriff was still pending in court.
In the Supreme Court ruling, Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, did not make a big deal of the police involvement
in the alleged aborted court order. He was of the view the order was defective.
The CJ said: “His attempt to remove the cattle failed, clearly because Macaleni who had possession was not
mentioned in the court order which the Deputy Sheriff was armed with.
“It is trite that the court will not issue an order which will be a brutum fulmen because some person who will
have to cooperate in its execution will not be bound by it.”
Ramodibedi - who also ruled the row over cattle should have been dealt with by the national court - was not
convinced Maseko had been in peaceful possession of the cattle before the team from the King’s Office visited his
He relied on an affidavit by a police officer, Inspector Sibusiso Dlamini, that Maseko often stole the king’s
cattle from the farm.
“... He was in ‘the habit of stealing the Ingwenyama’s cattle at George Farm.’ The Pigg’s Peak police had
“on numerous occasions recovered some of the cattle,” CJ Ramodibedi quoted from Inspector Dlamini’s affidavit.
In his affidavit, Inspector Dlamini said Maseko had on numerous occasions refused to heed calls by the council
appointed by chiefs from the Hhohho region to discuss the theft of the king’s cattle from the farm.
Inspector Dlamini added that the late Chief Madzanga Ndwandwe also failed to bring Maseko before the Inner Council
at Bulandzeni to answer for the theft of the iNgwenyama’s cattle.
It was not stated in court why Maseko was not arrested and prosecuted for cattle rustling if on numerous
occasions police had recovered some of the iNgwenyama’s cattle he allegedly stole from the farm.
Maseko’s alleged theft of royal cattle has been discussed in government with the office of the Director of
The traditional authorities of Bulandzeni have been roped in to discuss the matter with him after the seizure of
He said the chiefdom approached him after his cattle had been taken and he was not willing to discuss anything
with the chief’s representatives.
He was angry the chiefdom wanted a piece of him after suffering a huge loss.
Maseko was reluctant to say anything regarding the alleged theft from George’s Farm, the alleged recovery of
stolen cattle or if he had been arrested for stock theft.
He feared he may incriminate himself.
Despite his loss, Maseko has started acquiring for himself some cattle.